Avoiding Probate Chicago, Illinois, Lawyer
The Form and Function of Living Trusts
If, when you die, you simply leave your property to someone else in a will, it is necessary in most cases to go through probate. Probate is the process of proving in court that your will is valid, identifying and appraising your property, and distributing the property according to the will after debts and taxes have been paid.
Both you and your family may wish to avoid probate in order to keep your financial details private. Anyone can go down to the courthouse (in Chicago it is at the corner of Clark and Randolph streets) and pull a probate file and see the will, the inventory and any court orders that were entered with respect to the administration of the estate.
You may also wish to spare your family probate because of its cost. In order to administer a will, a lawyer has to be hired to file something called petition for letters of administration. A court date must be set, and on that court date, the will is admitted to probate. Your heirs will need to be notified via a notice that must be published in the paper as required by statute. This provides the opportunity for any disgruntled heir or creditor to file a claim against the estate.
Sound Legal Counsel from a Des Plaines Area Wills and Trusts Attorney
A properly implemented living trust avoids probate. How? Literally, it avoids probate because the owner does not die. If your assets are in a living trust, then upon your death, somebody you have named to take over (called a successor trustee) administers the trust according to your instructions. You will die, but your trust is immortal. The assets in your trust continue to be managed and distributed according to your instructions.
Joint tenancy with right of survivorship also avoids probate. But unlike joint tenancy, a living trust allows you to keep control over your assets. If you put your assets in joint tenancy with your children and one of your children goes through a bankruptcy or divorce, your assets are vulnerable to the decisions of a judge or bankruptcy trustee. You are the sole beneficiary and trustee of your trust. There is no risk that your children’s creditor difficulties could impact the security and safety of your own assets.
At the Law Offices of Gregory P. Turza, J.D., in Park Ridge, Illinois, we use wills, living trusts and other estate planning tools to protect your assets and offer a measure of flexibility in distributing those assets at death.
We also serve as legal counsel for personal representatives of estates to help carry out estate administration. Many legal issues arise during administration of even modest estates. Failure to adequately perform the administration duties can lead to personal liability. As a result, most representatives enlist a lawyer to help them perform these duties.
We can also represent your interests in will contests and other types of probate litigation.
We offer a free consultation in which our experienced Chicago probate attorney can answer your questions about avoiding probate, administering a will or any other estate planning matter. Call 847-250-0435, toll free 866-460-3077, or email us to schedule an appointment.